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Gwen Bergner

Associate Professor

Curriculum Vitae

My research and teaching focus on the intersections of race and gender in American and transnational contexts. I teach courses in African American, Women’s, Caribbean, Multiethnic, and Postcolonial literatures and cultural studies; film studies; and critical race theory.  I’ve led three groups of students on global service-learning courses to Jamaica and Trinidad and have presented research on how to make such courses more accessible for underrepresented students. I aim to help students discover how they can contribute to their communities and national conversations on race, gender, sex, human rights, and social justice.

My most recent research includes a just-finished essay on the film Imitation of Life (1959, dir. Douglas Sirk) that reconsiders this maternal melodrama alongside the Black Lives Matter paradigm to illuminate how classic Hollywood reinforced US penal and labor practices to relegate black women to domestic service for white families from slavery through the mid-twentieth century. I am also completing a review of two recent books on post-blackness and contemporary representations of slavery.

Specializations:
  • Race and Black Studies
  • Postcolonial and Caribbean Studies
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • American Studies
  • Film and Visual Studies

Selected Publications:

Books:
  • Taboo Subjects: Race, Sex, and Psychoanalysis. University of Minnesota Press, 2005.
Journal - Special Issue:
  • The Plantation, the Post-Plantation, and the Afterlives of Slavery, special issue of American Literature, co-editor with Zita Nunes, vol. 91, no. 3, 2019.
Articles:
  • Lòt bò dlo and the Spatial Relations of Dyaspora.” Narrating History, Home, and Nation: Critical Essays on Edwidge Danticat, edited by Maia Butler, Megan Feifer, and Joanna Davis-McElligatt, University Press of Mississippi, under contract.
  • Introduction. The Plantation, the Post-Plantation, and the Afterlives of Slavery, special issue of American Literature, vol. 91, no. 3, 2019, pp. 447-457. http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/00029831-7722078 
  • “Danticat’s Vodou Vernacular of Women’s Human Rights.” American Literary History, vol. 29, no. 3, 2017, pp. 521-545. https://doi.org/10.1093/alh/ajx021 
  • “Zoning in on the American Tropics.” American Literary History, vol. 27, no. 4, 2015, pp. 831-842. https://doi.org/10.1093/alh/ajv044
  •  “Veiled Motives: Women’s Liberation and the War in Afghanistan.” Globalizing Afghanistan: Terrorism, War, and the Rhetoric of Nation Building, edited by David Jefferess and Zubeda Jalalzai, Duke University Press, 2011, pp. 95-116.
  • “Black Children, White Preference: Brown v. Board, the Doll Tests, and the Politics of Self-Esteem.” American Quarterly, vol. 61, no. 2, 2009, pp. 299-332.
  • “Politics and Pathologies,” Frantz Fanon: Critical Perspectives, edited by Anthony Allessandrini, Routledge, 1999, pp. 219-234.
  • “Myths of the Masculine Subject: Freud’s Oedipus Complex and Douglass’s 1845 Narrative,” The Psychoanalysis of Race, edited by Christopher Lane, Columbia University Press, 1998, pp. 241-260.
  • “Uncanny Women and Anxious Masters: Reading Coppelia Against Freud,” with Nicole Plett. Moving Words: Re-writing Dance, edited by Gay Morris, Routledge, 1996, pp. 159-179.
  • “Who is that Masked Women? Or, the Role of Gender in Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks,” PMLA, vol. 110, no. 1, 1995, pp. 75-88.